One of the reasons that we should not try to dig a trench through Ashland is that a derailment involving tank cars carrying highly hazardous chemicals could have very serious consequences. (An example is the 2014 derailment in Lynchburg, VA). Another serious accident, once more involving tank cars, has taken place — and once more in Virginia. This incident took place in Alexandria, near the Floyd St./Wheel Ave. intersection on May 19th 2018.
The NTSB has not yet issued a report, but the following facts have been reported.
- 30 cars out of a total of 167 derailed.
- There were no injuries, either to the train crew or to the public.
- Firefighters say that the train was not carrying hazardous cargo.
- The cause of the derailment was a failure with the rail or railbed. (Some of the rail ballast was missing.)
- The rolling cars “took out” the bridge that collapsed.
- There has been no major disruption to passenger train service.
Informal discussion suggests that the rebuilding of the bridge could cause a serious delay in the High Speed Rail project.
From the pictures that are available it appears as if CSX was lucky — this event could have had much more serious consequences.